Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh. (Photo credit: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency)
On 17 January, the foreign ministry of Iran announced that it has deployed three diplomats to Saudi Arabia to reopen the country’s representative office to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), six years after the two countries severed diplomatic ties.
The announcement comes three weeks after Saudi Arabia announced that it had approved visas for three Iranian diplomats to take up positions at the OIC headquarters in Jeddah.
The move is seen as a sign that tensions are easing between the two regional competitors. Tehran and Riyadh halted diplomatic relations in 2016 after angry Iranian protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in reaction to the execution of prominent Saudi Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
In 2021, the Iranians and Saudis held four rounds of talks in Baghdad, launched by the government of Iraq to roll back hostilities ‘detrimental’ to regional geopolitics.
In a statement released after the fourth round, the Saudi foreign ministry described the talks as ”cordial but exploratory.” The Iranian foreign ministry said the talks had progressed well and that the Saudi delegation has responded ”positively” to the proposals made by Iran.
Iran and Saudi Arabia have in the past clashed over a number of regional and international issues. On 6 January, the Foreign Minister of Iran Amir Abdollahian Hossein said most of these contentious issues can be resolved through broad regional dialogue involving all West Asian countries.